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Grenada releases 3 leaders of 1983 coup
Three participants in a 1983 palace coup walked out of prison Wednesday after nearly a quarter century behind bars for an attack that led to a U.S. invasion of Grenada. The 10 other coup leaders still in prison will serve less than two more years under the sentences issued earlier in the day by a judge who said all 13 had demonstrated remorse. The defendants originally were sentenced to death in 1986 for the killings of former socialist leader Maurice Bishop, four Cabinet members and six supporters.
It was a moment of vindication for Christopher Stroude and his fellow coup participants, who stayed put when other inmates escaped after Hurricane Ivan punched holes in the prison's walls in 2004. Insisting that their sentences were improperly handed down, the former politicians and soldiers said they preferred to wait out their appeals.
The sentences were thrown out in February by the London-based Privy Council, the highest court of appeal for the former British colony, setting up a weeklong re-sentencing hearing that attracted hundreds of spectators.
Supreme Court Judge Francis Bell said he showed leniency because the defendants had behaved well behind bars and proven their remorse by inviting the victims' relatives to prison so they could apologize in person.
The judge has not addressed a request to immediately release former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, whose attorneys argue he needs eye surgery. Two other prisoners with health problems, John Ventour and Colville McBarnette, were ordered to appear before a review board within a year. Four others convicted in 1986 were spared death sentences. They included Coard's wife, who was freed in 2000 to undergo cancer treatment.
During the 1986 trial, prosecutors said that hard-line members of the Marxist government sent soldiers to kill Bishop on Oct. 19, 1983, considering him too moderate. Six days after the killings, thousands of U.S. troops stormed the Caribbean island on a mission that President Reagan said would restore order, protect American medical students and prevent a buildup of Cuban military advisers and weapons. The bodies of Bishop and the other victims have never been found. Prime Minister Keith Mitchell asked for help from the United States last week to recover them and close a bitter chapter in the island's history.
Another Brit top cop for Jamaica job
Justin Felice is the latest one of five British senior officers recruited to ranks of assistant commissioner and above, led by Deputy Commissioner of Police Mark Shields, to assist the modernisation of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). He comes from the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) assignment where he was their leading anti-corruption specialist. The 51-year-old Mr. Felice was recruited to the PSNI from England four years ago, and has specialised in anti-corruption during his 30-year career.
T&T’s Chief Justice suspended again
Prime Minister Patrick Manning has suspended Trinidad and Tobago 's
Chief Justice, Satnarine Sharma again. It is the second time in just under
12 months Justice Sharma age 62 had to step down from office. Both follow
a charge of attempting to pervert the course of public justice. There are
claims that he attempted to influence the outcome of a trial in which
former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday was involved.
Guyana accuses US of worst forms of human trafficking
Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo recently accused the United States of double standards over human rights, saying Washington was guilty of the worst forms of people trafficking from Central America. He was responding to the recent annual Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report put out by the US State Department.
This report praised Guyana for efforts to prevent trafficking in persons and its continued public awareness campaigns. However, the State Department kept the country on the Tier 2 watchlist "for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons over the past year, particularly in terms of convicting and sentencing human traffickers for their crimes."
The annual US report analyzes efforts in about 164 countries to combat trafficking for forced labor, prostitution, military service and other purposes. Sixteen countries are on its top Tier 3 blacklist of the world's worst offenders.
New US passport rule delayed 'til 2009
Caribbean countries are breathing a sigh of relief. The new passport
rule was expected to take a big chunk out of tourism there. A US Senate
committee has voted to put off until mid-2009 passport requirements for US
travelers entering the United States by land or sea from the Caribbean,
Canada and other neighboring countries.
Jamaica's economic performance best in over 20 years
According to the Jamaica Information Service the Jamaican economy grew by 2.5 per cent last year, which was the best performance in more than 20 years. The Government's management of the economy leading to this result has been commended by both local and international economists, including officials of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund.
The statistics indicate that the Jamaican economy created close to 73,000 net new jobs in the two years up to April 2006. This is close to 3,000 net new jobs for each month of the year. This increase in new jobs is being fueled by:
Mother and child die when gunmen firebomb home
Seven-year-old Damone Skyers and her mother burnt to death when their house was firebombed by heavily armed gunmen who invaded the community during the wee hours of the morning. The gunmen, numbering about 12, set fire to the home located in the Torrington Park Housing Scheme, lower St. Andrew, Jamaica. Damone and her mother made an attempt to escape from the blazing building. However, the gunmen opened fire on them, forcing mother and daughter back inside.
The vicious attack brought back memories of a similar incident which took place on October 6, 2005, about two miles away on Barnes Avenue, off Maxfield Avenue, Kingston, where 10-year-old Sasha Kay Brown, her grandparents and aunt, perished at their home which was fire-bombed by gunmen. Residents who attempted to assist in that incident, were also fired on by the gunmen. Neighbors listened as Sasha Kay cried for help, until her voice faded in the blaze.
CARICOM leaders refuse to back down on Cuba, Venezuela
The sovereignty of CARICOM countries seem to have survived the recent meeting of several Heads of Government and US President George Bush. They made it clear that despite US hostility to Cuba and Venezuela, they would continue their close friendly ties with both countries. For in the words of Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt.
"We are not bribed in any way by any government of the world and we are principled leaders representing the interest of principled citizens and we have our own national needs and demands and as such our relationship with the rest of the world is based, in large part, on the principled positions and the interest of the region as a whole."
Cuba and Venezuela have extended the hand of cooperation to their Caribbean neighbors. For instance:
Prime Minister Gonsalves made the important point that: "Cuba and Venezuela have never asked for any country in the Caribbean to do anything for them."
Thieves in Jamaica steal communication cable lines
Thieves, over the last 15 months, have disconnected and stolen more than $50 million worth of cable belonging to communication giant Cable and Wireless Jamaica. The theft has been disrupting telephone services in sections of the Corporate Area, St. Ann, St. Mary, Portland, Manchester and St. Catherine.
During the last fiscal year, C&W had to replace over $41 million worth of cable and since April, they reported a loss of another $10 million.
While the matter has been reported to the police, Cable and Wireless has installed special security features.
For example, in the event that a cable is cut, an alarm will be set off either at the nearest police station or at the office of a private security company. The police have confirmed reports of the theft and said the culprits have been selling the cable to scrap yards.
Apart from the security measures, Cable and Wireless is offering a reward to person(s) with information that leads to an arrest or conviction. It is alleged that the persons involved in the theft usually pose as workmen with pickups. These vehicles are used to transport the cable.
"Forced Ripe" Jamaican youth face severe problems
Herbert Gayle, lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work at the University of the West Indies, is contending that parents of youths in poor communities, as well as community organisations, are involved in the exploitation of young Jamaicans.
He also says a large number of Jamaican youths are heads of their households, and others are forced to drop out of school. "This is abuse," states Gayle, as he discloses the results of a recently concluded research paper titled, 'Forced Ripe'.
The study shows that the young people suffer from poor-quality education and high rates of attrition from school, lack of employment opportunities, poor reproductive health and high rates of teenage pregnancy, unstable home environments and poor parenting, and high levels of crime and violence, including domestic violence and sexual abuse.
According to Gayle, "Forced ripe is used to refer to young people, kids, who have to provide for their mother and father."
He states: "We put them (offspring) through brutal hardship. We are demanding too much. We are breaking them, fracturing our youth with our demands. It is something happening within our environment, which needs to stop."
China’s trade surplus surges 73% in May
While the Caribbean and the mighty US struggle with huge trade deficits, China’s trade surplus soared to the third highest monthly level on record. The surplus hit US$22.5 billion, up 73 per cent from last May, the Chinese customs agency said on its website. Exports jumped 28.7 per cent to US$94 billion, while imports rose 19.1 per cent to US$71.6 billion.
The United States reported a US$232.5 billion trade deficit with China in 2006, and this year's figure is expected to surpass that. The European Union was China's biggest trading partner in the first five months of the year, with total two-way commerce rising 29 per cent to US$129.9 billion, according to the customs agency. The United States was in second place, with two-way trade rising 18.2 per cent to US$115.2 billion from January to May. Japan was No. 3, with trade up 15.5 per cent at US$91.2 billion.
The World Bank and other experts say this year's trade surplus could top US$250 billion.
Global warming threaten Caribbean coral
Global warming is already threatening Caribbean coral with extinction. A recent study by Conservation International Caribbean reported that coral species are dying off, indicating dramatic shifts in the ecological balance under the sea. The study found that 10 percent of the Caribbean's 62 reef-building corals were under threat. "One of the Atlantic Ocean's most beautiful marine habitats no longer exists in many places because of dramatic increases in coral diseases, mostly caused by climate change and warmer waters," said Dr. Michael L. Smith, director of the Caribbean Biodiversity Initiative at Conservation International.
A gathering of 23 scientists in Dominica in March 2007 analyzed data on Western Tropical Atlantic corals, seagrasses, mangroves and algae, which are fundamental components of marine ecosystems providing food and shelter for numerous other organisms and local communities. Coral reefs support some of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. When the coral reefs disappear, so will many other species which rely on reefs for shelter, reproduction and foraging.
The threats to corals and other marine species include coastal pollution and human development; increased sedimentation in run-off water; thermal stress and heightened severity of hurricanes from climate change; and shifts in species dynamics due to over-fishing, according to the study. Scientists explained that the Caribbean has undergone the longest and most sustained impacts from human development since the colonization of the Americas. The scientists noted that some healthy Caribbean coral reefs still exist in well-managed marine protected areas such as Bonaire Marine Park in the Netherlands Antilles. Direct human impacts are reduced in these areas allowing most corals to thrive; however, thermal stress from global warming affects all corals in the Caribbean and must be reversed if these refuges of Caribbean beauty are to survive, they added.
Jamaican-born pilot sets solo flying record
Barrington Irving, a 23-year-old Jamaican-American has become the first black person and the youngest to fly solo around the world. Irving traversed four continents, clocking more than 130 hours of flight time on a 97-day, 26,800-mile 'World Flight Adventure' that included stops in the Azores, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Dubai, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.
Irving was born in Jamaica and grew up in inner-city Miami. The 23-year-old aerospace student, who built his plane from more than US$300,000 in donated parts, took off from Miami on March 23. He arrived back in Miami to a water salute from two fire trucks, a praying group of clergy, youth drummers, thunderous cheers and flag-waving Jamaicans, complemented by cameramen and journalists falling over each other.
The plane was not cheap as it was a US$600,000 Lincair Colombia 400 single-engine aircraft. He US$600,000 Lincair Colombia 400 single-engine aircraft He received support from a variety of corporate and other sponsors. Irving, whose purpose in making the flight was to inspire inner-city and minority youth to consider pursuing careers in aviation and aerospace.
Irving is now studying at Florida Memorial University. He has private and commercial pilot licenses. He also founded Experience Aviation, a Miami-based organisation that encourages minority youths to pursue aviation careers.
Antigua made nice profit on World Cup cricket
While Jamaica racked up big deficits, Antigua made a nice profit even despite relatively low turnouts there too. WORLD CUP Antigua and Barbuda Inc., (WCAI) the local organising committee (LOC) for the Cricket World Cup staged for the first time in the Caribbean earlier this year, has reported that its revenue from ticket sales for the event should exceed US$3 million. Expenses are estimated at US$1.5 million. WCAI said more than 44,000 spectators watched the six Super Eight matches played at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium.
Guadeloupe reach semi’s of soccer Gold Cup
Lowly regarded Guadeloupe raised eyebrows as they made it to the semi-finals of the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup. With victories by identical 2:1 scores, they defeated Canada and then Honduras to advance to the semifinal against the highly vaunted Mexico. Mexico went on to defeat them by a hard fought 1:0. Then The USA claimed their fourth CONCACAF Gold Cup™ by defeating Mexico 2:1 in the 2007 final at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.
Haiti and T&T failed to win a match. However, T&T had to play without their foreign-based players because of ongoing bitter pay dispute. Here are the results:
Reggae Boyz return from dismal Asian soccer tour
Jamaica’s all local based national football squad returned home after
their four game Asian tour where they tasted victory only once and
suffered a humiliating 8-1 defeat against Iran in their final. This was
Jamaica’s heaviest defeat since losing 9-nil to Costa Rica in San Jose
in 1999. The team also lost 2-1 to Indonesia and 3-0 to Vietnam but
defeated Malaysia 2-nil, teams ranked way below Jamaica in the FIFA
Why positive? This was a humiliating waste of money. Why tour all the way to Asia with an inexperienced team? Much less expensive experience could be gained right here in the Caribbean region. Let them play in St. Lucia! Besides T&T was competitive in the Gold Cup with an all local team
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